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Linguistic Situation

Slovene is the official language of the Republic of Slovenia /Photo: Katarina Krmelj

Slovene is an Indo-European language with a highly developed inflectional system (e.g. preservation of the dual). Together with Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian and Bulgarian, it is classified within the South Slavic branch of the Slavic languages, although it also has many features in common with the West Slavic branch. The geographic territory of Slovene lies in one of the most complex linguistic contact areas in Europe, where Slavic converges with Romance, Germanic and Finno-Ugric. In comparison to the majority of other Slavic languages, Slovene has a number of characteristic features in the areas of phonology, lexicology and morphology. To orthographically represent its 29 phonemes, Slovene uses 25 Latin letters, including three with a wedge (č,š,ž ).


Slovene is the official and state language of the Republic of Slovenia. It is a minority language with a recognised status as a second official language in the southern part of the Austrian province of Carinthia, in the eastern part of the Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and in the western part of the Hungarian county of Vas. In addition to this contiguously settled territory, Slovene is used in emigrant communities in a number of countries in Europe and elsewhere, primarily as a language spoken at home. Slovene is the native language of approximately 2.4 million people: about 1.85 million of them live in the Republic of Slovenia, about 140,000 in the adjacent territory of neighbouring countries, and about 250,000 in diaspora, primarily in Germany, France, Sweden, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia and in other countries of the former Yugoslavia. There are about 11,000 members of the Hungarian and Italian indigenous minorities using their languages in the Republic of Slovenia, and about 140,000 persons with Croatian or Serbian as their native language are scattered across Slovenia, where they have settled from the republics of the former Yugoslavia.


Despite the fact that Slovene is limited to a relatively small territory and small number of speakers, dialectologists have established the presence of 46 clearly defined dialects, divided into six regional groups: Carinthian, Upper Carniolan, Lower Carniolan, Littoral, Rovte, Styrian and Pannonian.




The article on Slovenian language was prepared on the occasion of the European Year of Languages in 2001 by Dr Janez Dular.